Diversity is just a euphemism for affirmative action

women on boards
From today’s SMH on diversity in Aussie boardrooms.

“But evidently not everyone has been enlightened on the benefits of gender diversity on boards, not least of all better financial performance. Note that the twenty companies listed in the article have the following 1yr and 3yr relative performance (i.e. vs. ASX 200). Note on an unweighted average over these 1 & 3 year periods, these chauvinistic men’s clubs outperformed the broader index by 22.7% and 89.9% respectively.

aussie men only on boards

There remain 20 board rooms out of Australia’s ASX200 firms where high heels do not feature under the table (more if you include the sensible women who have joined the “flats” movement).

So who are these companies? You might guess they are old school mining and engineering firms, where manly qualities such as ability to wear hard hats and boots reign supreme. Mining firms certainly feature on the list, but it’s a more diverse group than you might think that continue to refuse to countenance the contribution women might bring to their decision making.

Let’s meet them, shall we? Until we name and shame these firms, they’ll face little pressure to change.

Name & shame? Have 100% female boards for all I care.  This idea that all companies run by males are automatically tight knit clubs devoid of critical thinking is as antiquated now as the people making the claim. Shareholders will not care in the slightest if performance is at the top of the agenda. In fact, the pressure on management to perform lest be fired by their shareholders means they will strive to hire the best – male, female or trans. So we should avoid this idea that ‘diversity’ automatically converts to ‘better performance’.  I’ve had some fantastic female bosses and some awful ones as I have had with males. However we must be clear not to turn anything mandatory for the sake of it because once again in the push for diversity it becomes discrimination against others who maybe more qualified. Ultimately boards are their to serve shareholders not diversity councils keen on taking words out of our vocabulary in the workplace.

Note Germany’s parliament passed legislation requiring the country’s largest 100 companies to appoint 30% of board seats to women from 2016 and 50% from 2018. Currently women hold 3% of seats at major Japanese firms.Looking at returns to date, there is little correlation between the number of women serving on boards and better performance in Germany or Japan. From a pure best practice in corporate governance perspective, meritocracy and qualification should take precedence over gender. That is not to say there are not many qualified women in Japan. Over half of Bridgestone’s board is comprised of women.

To be honest, most online applications for jobs now ask religion, minority or sexual preference therefore I wonder if my chances of selection for interviews maybe enhanced by selecting the minority box in this ever increasing inclusion leading to exclusion world?

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